MANILA – China will increase infrastructure assistance to the Philippines under “corruption-free” agreements, as ties between the two countries improved under President Rodrigo Duterte, Beijing’s envoy said Friday.
The Chinese government hopes Duterte will secure “emergency powers” to speed up his infrastructure overhaul, Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said, adding a new government would bring “uncertainty.”
Zhao said investments and loans from China in the coming years will be “even greater” than Beijing’s earlier commitment of $6 billion in soft loans and a $3-billion credit line.
“We will try to make sure these projects are going to be corruption-free,” Zhao said in a televised speech from Davao City.
Allegations of corruption scuttled previous infrastructure deals with China, including the $500-million Northrail, which will connect the capital to provinces in the north, and a $329-million national broadband network.
“There is a very strong sense of urgency. As you all know, the infrastructure projects, they cannot be done overnight,” he said.
“We must hurry. We have to get it done within the presidential term. We are quite afraid of taking up projects that go beyond the presidential term. That will mean a lot of challenges and uncertainties,” he said.
Zhao said there was a “strong possibility” that the Philippines and China will break ground on three projects, including a train line from Manila to Legazpi City.
The Philippines offered 40 projects to China, 15 for financing and 25 others for assistance with feasibility studies, he said.